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M&S, Microsoft partner to transform retail experience using AI

RBR Staff Writer Published 25 June 2018

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has partnered with technology giant Microsoft to investigate and test the capabilities of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) in a retail environment.

The partnership will focus on testing the integration of Microsoft AI technologies into M&S’ customer experience, stores and operations.

The two teams will explore how AI can be used in retail environments to improve customer experience and to optimise operations.

M&S CEO Steve Rowe said the company is transforming into a Digital First retailer, at a time when the sector is undergoing a customer-led revolution. 

Rowe said: "We want to be at the forefront of driving value into the customer experience using the power of technology.

“Working together with Microsoft to understand the full potential of how technology and artificial intelligence can improve the in-store experience for our customers and the efficiencies of our wider operations could be a game changer for M&S – and for retail.”

The partnership with Microsoft will build on M&S’s new Technology approach which was announced earlier this year.

Microsoft UK CEO Cindy Rose said: “We firmly believe that AI has the power to amplify human ingenuity. The retail sector is one of the most challenging landscapes in the UK right now and we are thrilled to be working with M&S to explore how AI can help such an iconic brand transform the customer experience and improve wider operations.”

The company is seeking to remain relevant in a challenging and fast-changing retail environment. Due to the onslaught of e-commerce, retailers including Maplin, Toys R Us and Poundworld have slipped into administration.

M&S stated that it will close 100 UK stores, a process which resulted in 62% profit drop last year.

Image: M&S Store. Photo: Courtesy of Marks and Spencer plc